Meat is crucial for human health, scientists say as they call for end to the ‘zealotry’ pushing vegetarian and vegan diets
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Scientists have called for zealots to stop pushing vegetarian and vegan diets on to people, warning that meat is crucial for a healthy lifestyle.
Almost 1,000 academics from leading universities across the world have signed an initiative which argues that livestock farming is too important to ‘become the victim of zealotry’.
Publishing in the academic journal Animal Frontiers, as part of a collaboration between professional animal science societies, dozens of experts looked behind new claims that eating meat causes diseases, as well as being harmful for the planet.
It comes amid a bigger push from campaigners to take up a plant-based diet, with initiatives such as Veganuary and Meatfree Mondays.
Further to this, the medical journal The Lancet published a paper The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factor Study in 2020, where they said a high red meat diet was responsible to 896,000 deaths globally.
Researchers found, however, that it is hard to replicate the nutritional content of meat.
It added that those who live in poorer communities and have a low meat intake often suffer from a number of nutrient-deficient diseases such as stunted growth, wasting and anaemia, The Telegraph reports.
Researchers in Animal Frontiers said that unprocessed meat is responsible for providing B12 vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals, such as iron and zinc, as well as supplying retinol.
The paper suggested that the link between red meat and disease was almost eradicated when it was combined with a healthy diet, leading to the suggestion it was the rest of the diet that is the cause behind health issues.
One the authors of the peer review, Dr Alice Stanton from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, explained that peer reviewed evidence showed that the Global Burden study’s claim was ‘fatally scientifically flawed’.
She added: ‘Removing fresh meat and dairy from diets would harm human health. Women, children, the elderly and [people on] low income would be particularly negatively impacted
‘Livestock-derived foods provide a variety of essential nutrients and other health-promoting compounds many of which are lacking in diets even among those populations with higher incomes,’ the declaration states.
‘Well-resourced individuals may be able to achieve adequate diets while heavily restricting meat dairy and eggs. However this approach should not be recommended for general populations.’
Another one of the reports author’s Dr Wilhelm Windisch, of the Technical University Munich, added: ‘One-sizefits-all agendas, such as the drastic reductions of livestock numbers could incur environmental and nutritional consequences on a massive scale.’